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In Praise of Profanity
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Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1: Profanity: The Great Debate(s) Chapter 2: Intimacy, Exceptionalism, and Having It Both Ways Chapter 3: Expletive and Euphemism Chapter 4: Artful Profanity Coda: Ultimate Profanity

About the Author

Michael Adams is Provost Professor of English Language and Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington, and author or editor of several books on language, including Slayer Slang (OUP, 2003), Slang: The People's Poetry (OUP, 2009), and From Elvish to Klingon (OUP, 2011). For many years, he was Editor of the journal Dictionaries, and he recently retired as Editor of the quarterly journal, American Speech.

Reviews

"Today we can find the F word on handbags, T-shirts, and even sneaking across the pages of a faux children's book. We live in profane times, but here comes Michael Adams, one of the great observers of words in the wild, to show us the upside of low language in a brilliant, hilarious, romping treatise that is at once very smart and very naughty." --David Skinner, author of The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published "Adams deftly weaves together Seneca, Shakespeare, the Sopranos, and the bathroom stall in this profane and profound philosophical take on why bad words are good for us. It will leave you feeling ten times smarter and yelling, 'Fuck, yeah!'" --Arika Okrent, author of In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers and the Mad Dreamers who tried to Build a Perfect Language "Standing firm against a world fast descending into the voluntary auto-infantilism of 'safe spaces' and trembling at 'micro-aggressions,' Michael Adams offers another view. This, he declares, is the Age of Profanity. In lay terms: our 'dirty' words. Blending wit and erudition and writing in elegant, cogent prose, Professor Adams, who has already offered his learned assessment of TV's Buffy, of Star Trek's Klingon, and of slang itself, takes a new and illuminating look at language's pariah vocabulary. With In Praise of Profanity he re-stakes his claim as one of the leading lexicologists of slang and non-standard language." --Jonathon Green, author of The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of Slang and Green's Dictionary of Slang "Obscene words have been largely ignored by scholars, despite the enormous public interest in the subject. Michael Adams' In Praise of Profanity finally remedies this, explaining in witty and uncensored detail how we swear, why we swear, and whether we should be upset by it (hint: no). Adams has written the essential guide to this most important and entertaining edge of the linguistic landscape." --Jesse Sheidlower, author of The F-Word "Adams ranges widely, energetically, from early modern English poetry to contemporary television, offering definitions, etymologies, and theories of language development, all while tracing patterns in the deployment of profanity in English." --The New York Times Book Review "Adams's work takes readers on a rich ride through history and culture on the value of swearing." --Library Journal, starred review "A sharp, well-studied dissection of the role of swearing in culture, why people curse, and why it's good for us." --Kirkus Reviews "Readers won't necessarily come away from this book swearing a blue streak. But the next time they're compelled to light up with an expletive -- or they hear someone cursing up a storm -- they'll more than likely remember Adams's thought-provoking, contemporary investigation that casts a new light on the darker side of the English language." --Shelf Awareness "You can't go wrong with this delightful book." --Language Hat "In Praise of Profanity succeeds in conferring profundity on an underdog vocabulary." --The Rumpus "As an academic with a passion for slang and other 'low' language, Adams is well placed to explore the various debates over profanity: the noisy issue of its morality, the scholarly question of its linguistic status, and the insidious framing of vulgarity as a stand-in for assorted prejudice." --Strong Language "A continual delight to read. Adams sets himself a staggeringly ambitious task in In Praise of Profanity, and tackles it in prose that mixes crystalline clarity, deep insight, and an admirable lightness of touch." --PopMatters "Anyone who loves the English language -- and who isn't afraid of its sharper edges -- will find In Praise of Profanity a welcome addition to their personal library." --Copyediting.com "Adams has written an entertaining, personal, deeply erudite book on the reasons Americans need, use, and enjoy profanity... Highly recommended." --CHOICE

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